The sound of a distant thunderstorm accompanies the first image of the star-crossed lovers caught up in events they cannot control.
A Square in Town
It is carnival time and the Montagues are decorating the square in preparation for the festivities. The Montague family crest is a bird of prey and this will be their carnival motif. Into this scene come three friends: Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio. Lady Capulet's nephew, Tybalt, and two henchmen inadvertently intrude and are provoked into a quarrel. The fight that breaks out becomes increasingly violent, and it is only the arrival of the Prince of Verona that finally puts an end to the bitter quarrel. He warns that further bloodshed will be punished by death.
Juliet is being dressed by her nurse. Her mother, Lady Capulet, introduces Paris, a prospective suitor.
Outside the Capulet House
Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio decide to gatecrash the Capulet's masked ball.
The Capulet Ball
During the dancing, Romeo meets Juliet for the first time.
Tybalt becomes suspicious of his attentions and despite efforts by Mercutio to distract Tybalt, Romeo is unmasked. He and his companions are ordered to leave.
Later that evening, Romeo climbs into the garden below Juliet's balcony and they rejoice in their mutual love.
A Square in Town
The air is heavy with the impending storm. A procession of carnival birds is lead by Mercutio and Benvolio. Romeo appears. He has fallen deeply in love with Juliet and his friends cannot distract him. The nurse arrives with a letter, and after some teasing Romeo discovers that Juliet is waiting for him with Friar Laurence.
Friar Laurence's Cell
Romeo & Juliet are joined in marriage with the nurse as their witness.
Back in the Square
Tybalt and Paris lead a group of Capulets in a dance celebrating their carnival motif - the cats. An incident provokes a fresh outbreak of violence. Romeo, in his efforts to avoid more bloodshed, distracts Mercutio, leaving him open to Tybalt's killing thrust. Romeo can no longer play peacemaker; he has no choice but to avenge his dead friend.
By murdering Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, Romeo has sacrificed all hope of reconciliation between the two families. He must escape Verona at once or lose his life. The threatening storm finally breaks as Lady Capulet laments Tybalt's death.
Rain is falling steadily. The lovers' first and last night together is over and they must part. Romeo reluctantly takes leave of his new wife.
The nurse arrives to warn Juliet that her parents are bringing Paris to her room. Juliet's refusal of Paris provokes her father to a violent outburst. The nurse manages to protect her from a beating but Lord Capulet swears he will not be disobeyed. Alone and desperate, Juliet goes to the one person who can help her – Friar Laurence.
Friar Laurence's Cell
The Friar calms Juliet and gives her a potion that will induce a death-like sleep.
Lady Capulet and the nurse prepare Juliet for her betrothal to Paris and her adult life. Paris tries to regain her trust and affection, but as soon as she is left alone her defiance and strength of purpose return.
Though frightened of taking the potion, she fixes her mind on Romeo and drinks the draught. As it takes effect Juliet scarcely has time to reach her bed before she loses consciousness.
The Wedding Morning
Juliet's friends come to decorate her room on her wedding morning, filling the room with rose petals before she wakes. The nurse brings the bridal dress but the form on the bed remains still - Juliet appears to be dead.
The Capulet Crypt
The mourning Capulets have taken their last leave of Juliet when Romeo breaks into the vault. He desperately tries to revive her but she cannot respond, and believing her to be dead, Romeo takes poison.
When Juliet regains consciousness her lover is already dead. There is no poison left for her to drink, so with a dagger, she takes her own life.
Friar Laurence arrives too late to avert the tragedy.
Over the dead bodies of their children, Lord Capulet and Lord Montague finally recognise the futility of their hatred.